GRAND HAVEN — Like many of their clients, these area Realtors started off wanting only a new home.
They’ll end up getting much more — such as a classroom where they can learn the profession and improve their abilities. The West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors will even open its new headquarters for public use to organizations or companies that need space to hold seminars or professional training.
The association broke ground early this month on the 6,000-square-foot building, going up on a 2.5-acre site along 168th Avenue, west of U.S. 31, in Grand Haven Township. Occupancy is targeted for March 2002.
Costing $640,000, plus $250,000 for the land, the new headquarters represents the maturing of the association that was formed in January 2000 through the merger of Realtor groups in Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland.
“We’re in a growth stage,” association CEO Dale Zahn said. “We’re not a baby anymore, we’re a toddler.”
The West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors represents 1,000 Realtors and more than 200 affiliate members in a service area stretching from north of Muskegon to south of Saugatuck. When the merger was completed, the three offices of the former associations were closed and staff relocated into leased office space in Grand Haven. An association task force also began work planning the construction of a new headquarters that would be centrally located.
As that plan evolved, the group decided to include a classroom that would house a “full-service real estate school” to provide pre-license and continuing education for Realtors, Zahn said. The permanent training space will eliminate many of the cumbersome logistical headaches that go with organizing seminars and training, as well as allow the association to delve into areas such as Internet and technology training, and programs for commercial real estate professionals and property managers that it does not offer now, Zahn said.
“We really saw a need,” he said. “We’ve looked at the future. We’re looking to be in a position to serve the membership with something they can take an ownership in and take advantage of.”
Once the decision was made to have a training classroom in the new headquarters, the association decided to open the facility to others in the area to use for professional training and seminars.
Doing so, Zahn said, wasn’t as much a question of why, but why not. The decision was spurred by conversations Zahn had with Nancy Manglos, who previously ran the business and education programs for the former Grand Haven Community Education and who now runs Training Connections, the workforce development arm of the Association of Commerce and Industry in Grand Haven.
“We’ve got a nice facility,” Zahn said. “It makes sense.”